10 SUPERLAWYERS.COM A T TORNE YS SELECTED TO SUPER LA WYERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WI TH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 30.
Life outside of billable hours
Family law and estate planning attorney Kim Wil-
loughby is a popular participant at meetings of the
Colorado Bar Association, and not just because of her
legal insights. She also mixes the cocktails.
“I’ll do my presentation, and then go sling drinks,”
Willoughby says. “I make cocktails that involve vodka
and a lot of fresh fruit and fresh herbs, or even fresh
vegetables. I’ll go pour them for the bar association
folks and they love it.”
The vodka she uses in those drinks comes from the
distillery that she and her husband Jon own and run:
Vanjak Vodka, based in Golden, Colorado.
Vanjak began appearing on liquor store shelves in
April 2015. The company, which sells its vodka from
Denver to Fort Collins, is named for members of the
Willoughby/Guelzow clan: Van, Jory Anna and Kim. Jon
used his experience in the liquor distribution industry to
get the idea off the ground, and now that the company
is up and running, it’s Willoughby’s goal to eventually
produce craft gin and bourbon in addition to vodka.
The booze business also offers a nice break from
her law practice. “I do death and divorce,” Willoughby
says. “I needed some way to be more fun at parties.”
Vanjak is also a way to reconnect her family to South
Dakota, where her great-great-grandfather was once a
homesteader, where she was born, and where she still
owns property. She hopes to expand the business there.
“My family is from a town called Bonesteel,” Wil-
Spirits of the Law
loughby says. “It’s a place with a hundred people and
Why Kim Willoughby is the unofficial state bar mixologist BY ANDREW ENGELSON
five thousand cows. So the dream is to make Bonesteel
Whiskey. South Dakota is one of the biggest producers
of rye. I like rye whiskey. And on this property there’s this
artesian well. Right now it’s just watering the cows.”
Willoughby is thinking so far ahead, she’s even
picked several potential brides in the town for her
13-year-old son to marry some day. “They’re cur-
rently between the ages of 3 and 11,” she says with a
chuckle. “He can pick from any of them.” Even if that
doesn’t pan out, Willoughby hopes her kids will be
interested in continuing the family business.
Having a law practice also comes in handy when
navigating the complex regulations of the liquor
industry, she says, although that’s where the overlap
ends. “My practice is high-end,” she notes, “so my clients are usually professionals. Then you get into the
liquor industry and they’re much more, well, freaks
and geeks. A lot more tattoos and lot more smiles.
It’s a whole different world. It’s fun to be in both.”
Though it may be a few years before the family busi-
ness makes its way to Bonesteel, Willoughby takes her
family up to the South Dakota property several times a
year, where she has already built a road and pole barn,
but still needs a house. In the interim, she concedes
that where she lives now—in the foothills of the Front
Range—isn’t too bad. “I wake up and I’ll see a herd of
200 elk,” she says. “I feed a flock of 20 turkeys every
day. I have coyotes that go through my yard, and I’ve
seen bear, too. I love where I live.”
Favorite Willoughby cocktail recipes
STRAWBERRY BASIL SMASH
4 large strawberries
3 basil leaves
Squeeze of balsamic-infused simple syrup
Juice of ½ lemon
1.5 oz of Vanjak vodka
In a mixing glass, muddle the strawberries and basil leaves.
Squeeze in juice of ½ lemon. Add 2 teaspoons of simple syrup,
plus the vodka and ice cubes. Take another glass and mix by
pouring the drink back and forth between glasses. Top with club
soda. Garnish with a small basil leaf.
Simple syrup: add one cup of sugar to one cup of water. Add in
a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Mix. Heat to boiling. Reduce
heat and simmer for 5 min. Cool.
GRANDMA SUE’S LEMONADE—PITCHER
1 cup fresh lemon juice
¾ cup vanilla bean-infused simple syrup
8 cups of water
1.5 oz Vanjak vodka per glass
Combine lemon juice, simple syrup and water in a large pitcher.
Chill. Fill a glass with ice, and add 1.5 oz of Vanjak vodka. Pour in
lemonade. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Simple syrup: add one cup of sugar to one cup of water. Add in 4
Madagascar vanilla bean pods. Scoop out the beans if you can.
Mix. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 min. Cool.